The Oscar-winning actor and face of Gucci’s latest fragrance campaign talks AI and scent with Dazed Beauty
“I’ll tell you what,” Jared Leto ponders aloud from a room at LA’s famed Chateau Marmont hotel, “In ten years there will without a doubt be software that will be able to read your thoughts.” For a second, his eyes close as the waves of his glossy long brown hair catch the sunlight shining through the window, and he appears almost holy as he considers the possibilities.
“They already have it in a very rudimentary way,” he continues. “If you think of an apple, it will appear on the screen. They have that technology. I think that in the end we will be able to communicate directly via some server somewhere. It isn’t science fiction, it's reality.”
Today, the age-defying, multi-hyphenate Gucci muse and actor-slash-musician-slash-oracle is preoccupied with the future. It’s an intriguing contrast, given his slightly bohemian air and appearance over the past few years. And also, of course, because of the new fragrance campaign he’s promoting for the latest iteration of Gucci Guilty feels more evocative of a mad, mashup version of the past rather than the future, in keeping with the brand’s creative direction under Alessandro Michele.
The Glen Luchford-lensed ads mark a welcome new direction for Gucci Guilty, swapping out the sex once so synonymous with the brand for a retro hodgepodge of colourful Los Angelenos, including a new co-star in the form of the ever enigmatic pop pin-up Lana Del Rey, known lover of the odd vintage ref or two herself. Described by the fashion house as a “the story of two individuals who live completely free from life’s expectations,” the playful campaign conjures up an eclectic vision of California’s most famous town - and a pair of its most well-known residents.
In the short film and accompanying images from the campaign, Jared and Lana take over old school LA laundromats, diners, beauty parlours and the Hollywood Forever cemetery, as Courtney Love serves filtered coffee and a live ostrich stomps down the aisles of a grocery store as the two peruse its shelves. Stranger things have happened… in Gucci’s brave new world, at least.
“I used to think that I hated perfume,” confesses Jared. “I've learned through this process that I actually really love it. Especially, when the right scent is on the right person. When it becomes an identity, I think that's my favourite.” The evolution of Jared’s own olfactory appreciations has undoubtedly been aided by the close bond he shares with the brand’s new designer.
“My experience with the fragrance is wrapped up in my thoughts about Gucci and Alessandro,” explains Jared, whose relationship with the house began before the Michele era but has clearly flourished since his appointment. “It feels like you're on a creative adventure together.”
Last year’s Met Ball, at which Alessandro walked the red carpet with both Jared and Lana on either arm, proved not only a prelude for the campaign to come, but clear proof that the artist-muse relationship between the designer and actor had truly hit its peak. If you squinted your eyes a bit, you might have even gotten the two bearded brethren confused. “That's a really special thing if you're really fortunate to be part of the Gucci family,” says Jared. “I’m really happy to know Alessandro and be friends with him.”
It’s easy to see why fashion’s new superstar maestro has taken such a shine to the Oscar winner. Sure, he might be the rare male celeb who can pull off some of the more outrageous Gucci menswear looks with aplomb. But underneath all that embroidered silk and velvet is a curiosity that feels fully at home in the weird and wonderful house of Gucci redux - and evident in the big picture questions the brand’s best-known scent have inspired in him.
“[Fragrance] is a science and an art,” Jared offers. “Why is scent [so] important? Why is it such a big business? It's obvious we have some kind of innate, primal desire. I guess it goes back to mating… I feel like it's an under-appreciated sense.”
It’s not long before Jared’s mind wanders back to the future, even on the topic of scent itself. “One day, perfume or cologne won't be a physical substance,” Jared posits. “One day we'll be able to communicate, once we have the system in place, what I want you to smell. It will trigger those parts of your brain, whether it's smelling like Gucci Guilty or a doughnut, you'll walk into the store and you'll be able to smell whatever they either want you to, or you choose to, and it won't be a physical product.”
That kind of reality might prove an intriguing challenge for Gucci and the fragrance industry of tomorrow, but for today, whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or a soon-to-be reality, the sheer imagination of it all feels right on brand.
Gucci Guilty Pour Homme and Pour Femme are now available at Selfridges